It launched as Virgin Direct Personal Financial Services Limited in partnership with Norwich Union on 3 March 1995 offering PEP's and launched Virgin One, in a partnership with The Royal Bank of Scotland, in 1997. In 1997 Australia's AMP bought Norwich Union's 50% stake in Virgin Direct. In 2000, virginmoney.com was launched as a price comparison website. In 2001 RBS bought out Virgin's stake in the One Account joint venture.
In 2002, Virgin Direct merged with virginmoney.com to form the current company. In the 2000s Virgin Money expanded its operations around the world. In April 2004 the Virgin Group took 100% ownership of Virgin Money, buying the remaining 50% stake for £90 million from AMP's HHG arm.
In 2007 Virgin made a bid to acquire the Northern Rock bank; this initial bid failed. In an interview with The Times on 9 March 2009 Branson stated that he still hoped that Virgin Money would expand its operations into the banking sector, by saying "We are going to get back into the mortgage business and we will become a bank either by acquisition or by getting our own banking licence. You will see us become a consumer bank within the next couple of years." In October 2009, Virgin Money applied to the FSA for a full banking licence. In February 2011 they announced their intention to lease a large office in Edinburgh.
On 8 January 2010, Virgin Money announced the acquisition of Church House Trust for £12.3 million, giving Virgin a small foothold in the UK banking market. Although Church House Trust had no branches, it provided Virgin with a banking licence. As part of the acquisition, Virgin agreed to invest a further £37.3 million of new capital into the business. On 26 January the deal was declared unconditional.
In late January Sir Brian Pitman became the Chairman of Virgin Money; Pitman had previously been an advisor to Virgin during the attempted buyout of Northern Rock in 2007. In February Pitman stated that the company was interested in acquiring some branches of other banks which lie in good locations; branches belonging to RBS and Lloyds were reported as possible candidates. Following Pitman's death Sir David Clementi was appointed Chairman. In April 2010, WL Ross & Co. LLC invested £100 million in Virgin Money for a 21% stake in the company. WL Ross had previously supported Virgin Money in their previous bid for Northern Rock. James Lockhart, Vice Chairman of WL Ross, joined the Virgin Money board.
On 13 October 2007, Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin Group were putting together a consortium of financiers to propose to plough millions into the troubled Northern Rock bank and in return take an approximate 30% stake in the business, bringing the current financial products offered by Virgin and combining them with Northern Rock's own financial products. By February 2008, Virgin were the favoured bidders for the bank and announced in its official submission to the government that, if successful, they would have merged Northern Rock and Virgin Money, naming the new company "Virgin Bank". The initial bid was not successful and Northern Rock was then nationalised.
During 2011 the Government again asked suitors to come forward with proposals for Northern Rock. On 17 November 2011, it was announced that Virgin Money were to buy Northern Rock plc for £747 million, with other potential payments of up to £280 million over the next few years. By July 2012 a further £73 million was paid as deferred consideration. W.L. Ross increased his stake in Virgin Money, owning 44% of the combined business by putting £260 million into the deal. Both Abu Dhabi-based Stanhope Investments and Branson's Virgin Group invested £50 million in the Northern Rock deal. In 2014 Virgin Money repaid a further £154.5 million that it had received as part of the refinancing package.
There was to be no further job losses, except for those previously announced. Virgin has also pledged to keep the headquarters of the savings and mortgages business in Newcastle upon Tyne. On 9 January 2012, Richard Branson visited the Gosforth site and some branches of Northern Rock around Newcastle, including one with temporary Virgin Money branding.
On 22 June 2012, Virgin acquired the remainder of the Gosforth site from Northern Rock (Asset Management) plc, the 'bad-bank' which had been split from Northern Rock prior to the sale of the bank to Virgin. On 23 July it was announced that Virgin would also be acquiring £465 million worth of mortgage assets from Northern Rock (Asset Management). On 12 October Northern Rock plc was renamed Virgin Money plc and the Northern Rock brand was phased out.
In January 2013, Virgin agreed to buy £1 billion of assets from MBNA; these are the Virgin Credit Card assets which MBNA have serviced and managed in partnership with Virgin Money since 2002. The credit card book was integrated into Virgin Money's operations in 2014, and was expected to create 150 jobs at the Gosforth offices. The former Vice Chairman of MBNA Corporation, Lance Weaver, became Virgin Money's President of Virgin Money Cards. A further £363 million credit card asset portfolio was purchased from MBNA in 2014.
In October 2014, it was announced that Virgin Money Holdings (UK) plc would float shares on the London Stock Exchange in order to raise approximately £150 million which would go towards expanding and enabling it to continue to hire and maintain its existing base of top staff members. A successful offer led to a final payment of £50 million to the UK Government with respect to the company's IPO following the purchase of Northern Rock.
On 30 November 2014 Church House Trust Limited was sold to Ocean Industries S.A. for £13 million. In April 2015 W.L. Ross reduced their stake in the company to 23.3%; Stanhope reduced their stake to 1%. As of 2015 the business had 3 million customers.
Virgin Money's logo is focused around the main logo of Virgin Group, which is an underlined word 'Virgin' in a red and magenta gradient coloured circle. The logo was introduced in January 2012 to signify the purchase of Northern Rock, which used a magenta logo. Virgin Money's January 2012 television advert showcasing the launch of banking products showcased a number of Virgin companies and was directed by Duncan Jones and worked on by Beattie McGuinness Bungay.
Virgin Money's older logo was the word 'Virgin' in a red rounded skew rectangle, similar in shape to a credit card, followed by the word 'Money'. The previous logo had used a red logo with the word 'Virgin' in a large circle and three smaller circles above the word 'Money'. Virgin Direct's logo had been a more simplistic rendering of the company name, in white on top of a red rectangle with a semicircle attached on the left side.
As of 12 September 2014, the board of Virgin Money is composed of:Non-Executive Chairman - Glen Moreno
Non-Executive Directors - Norman McLuskie, Colin Keogh
Directors - Gordon McCallum, Patrick McCall
Chief Executive Officer - Jayne-Anne Gadhia
Chief Finance Officer - David Dyer
Chief Risk Officer - Marian Watson
Chief Operating Officer - Mark Parker
Chief Marketing Officer - Paul Lloyd
Corporate Development Director - David Dyer
Virgin Money's registered office is Jubilee House in Newcastle upon Tyne. The company also has offices in Norwich (Discovery House, the company's former headquarters), London, and Edinburgh (28 St Andrew Square).
Virgin took on Northern Rock's offices in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, renaming it Jubilee House. The site is next to the Regent Centre business park and comprises two black and grey buildings built in the 1990s and some additional sandstone and glass buildings built in the early 2000s.
The Chief Executive Officer Jayne-Anne Gadhia is based in Edinburgh and the savings and mortgage business is based at the Newcastle site.
Virgin Money offers a range of savings and investment products, mortgages, credit cards, insurance and pensions. The merger with Northern Rock widened Virgin Money's range from a previous focus on credit cards and insurance products, and the first savings accounts to be offered under the Virgin brand were issued in January 2012. These were gradually supplemented by other additional banking products under its own brand name. The bank launched its own range of current accounts in July 2014, initially only in Scotland and Northern Ireland. This was expanded to the rest of the UK in 2015.
In November 2011, the bank opened the first of its concept lounges in Norwich, followed by Edinburgh, Manchester, London, and Glasgow with plans to open more. Virgin renamed Northern Rock's 75 branches as stores, and the first to receive a temporary Virgin makeover opened on 9 January 2012. Richard Branson has also indicated in interviews that he would like to open branches at railway stations; Virgin Group's Virgin Trains operates a number of train stations. The full rebranding process, which also included the combining of the Northern Rock website into the existing Virgin Money website, was completed by October.
The bank is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Virgin Money subscribes to the Lending Code, and is a member of the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and UK Payments Administration.
Virgin Money Giving is a charitable not-for-profit company set up by Virgin in October 2009. From 2010, the Virgin Group signed a five-year deal to be the official sponsor of the London Marathon; the inaugural Virgin London Marathon was on 25 April 2010. This sponsorship led to the creation of Virgin Money Giving, with the aim "to help all fund-raisers raise more money for good causes". This sponsorship was also extended to at least 2017, and since the 2014 race has been known as the Virgin Money London Marathon.
The Virgin Money Foundation is the charitable arm the bank and was founded in 2015. The bank has initially pledged £4 million to the charity over 4 years, and the UK Government has committed to match that pledge.
Northern Rock also had its own charity, the Northern Rock Foundation, which Virgin Money supported until 2014.
Virgin Money leads the sponsorship of the London Marathon. Virgin Money also lent its name to the yacht that Sir Richard Branson used to attempt to break the transatlantic record. Since 2011 Virgin Money has sponsored events at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Virgin Money were the shirt sponsor of Newcastle United F.C. for the 2012–13 season, a club that had a sponsorship deal with Northern Rock since 2003. Newcastle United's shirts also displayed the Virgin Money logo for the remainder of the 2011–12 season, fulfilling Northern Rock's deal at the time of being bought by Virgin. To coincide with the launch of Virgin Money's rebranded stores, Richard Branson appeared in Newcastle, wearing a Newcastle United shirt, with a number of Newcastle United's footballers. The deal between Virgin Money and Newcastle United had also covered the 2013–14 season, but the club decided to end the deal a year early.
Virgin Money are the title sponsor of the Cyclone, the UK's biggest cycling festival, which had previously also been sponsored by Northern Rock. The first Virgin Money Cyclone was held in Summer 2012.
In 2003, Virgin Money launched its first venture outside of the UK by introducing its credit cards in Australia. In 2006, Virgin Money South Africa launched with a credit card initially in a partnership with ABSA. In 2007, Virgin Money launched in the United States after the Virgin Group made a majority stake investment in CircleLending, a company that facilitated peer-to-peer loans. Virgin Money USA entered into dissolution on 1 November 2010.